Saturday, February 8, 2014

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

I am still plugging along at the Better Me in 2014 program I sort-of-officially announced for myself several weeks ago.  Annoyingly I have once again fallen victim to some kind of head-cold that’s not a cold, but sure acts like one.  This time I went to the doctor, and followed directions on taking over the counter drugs, and I suppose it’s helping.  In the meantime, I have a feeling this blog post may not be up to my usual standard.  It’s hard to be clever when you can’t breathe.

Anyway, in the brief couple of weeks between non-colds, Miss Chef and I did manage to get out and have a little fun.  The first was a Slow Food dinner that Miss Chef was asked to cook for, and I was invited gratis (it’s normally a $20 ticket).  Slow Food is supposed to support traditional, sustainable food production…though we’ve found our local chapter seems to be more of a social dinner group.  Still, they do raise money for a local farmers’ fund, which is better than nothing.

This dinner was held in a barnlike warehouse space behind a local brewery, Triple C.  I got there early enough that I was able to get a few pictures, while everyone I knew was busy in the back with the food.

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Looks a bit like a wedding, doesn’t it?  In the back on the left, you can see the very basic bar they had set up, with a couple of selections from the brewery.

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The menu was flat-out Southern, with two kinds of pork barbeque…

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…cornbread and slaw…

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..and a really great kale salad with mandarin oranges hidden in it like juicy gems.

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There were other, less traditional dishes too, like vegetarian chili and roasted root vegetables; as well as some Carolina specialties of Sea Island red peas, and Carolina gold rice with a little saffron for color.

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Somehow, Miss Chef found herself in charge, but somebody had to, and she’s pretty good at it.

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I had a Blonde Boy beer while waiting, which I figured would help me be more chatty with the large crowd of mostly unfamiliar faces.  Once I went through the line and filled my plate, I did strike up several conversations with strangers and friends alike, and pretty much stopped taking pictures.  I did get a shot of some of the culinary students who came out to volunteer beside their chef instructors. 

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Miss Chef was thrilled any time she had such an opportunity during her student days, and it was really nice to see so many turn out.

So that covers the “eat” portion of this post…the “drink and be merry” part was just last weekend, at the Queen City Brewers Festival.

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This was a gathering of brewers from Charlotte and western North Carolina, along with several local restaurants and food vendors. Your entry ticket got you a small glass and free tastes from all the breweries and vendors.  We got there about 10 minutes after the starting time, and there was already a line around the building.  Fortunately, the organizers really knew their stuff, and all the ticket-taking crowd management went very smoothly.

Still, it was pretty crowded inside!

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Surprisingly, we were able to meet up very quickly with the two friends we knew would be in attendance.  The space was kind of weird, and not very well lighted.  But I was amazed at how many good breweries we have in the area.  I would guess there were nearly thirty of them arranged around the outside of the room, and each one offering at least two or three styles of beer—some had five or more.  There were porters, ales of various colors, a hefeweizen or two, hard cider, and of course all kinds of IPAs.  There was also one stand offering another kind of fermented beverages—kombucha, or fermented tea.  Not to my taste, but apparently the beet one was very good.

I don’t know either of these fellows, but I liked the hops-decorated hat enough to ask the wearer if I could snap his photo. 

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Yelp had a stand where you could make your own hot fashion accessory of the day: a pretzel necklace.  I always like a snack handy when I’m drinking beer.

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We rounded out our day by investing in the work of a local artist, David French.  I’d never heard of him before, but enjoyed his colorful renderings of local streetscapes and landmarks. Our friends already had several of his works, and bought several more.  Several of the streetscapes caught my and Miss Chef’s eye, but when we saw this one, it was a done deal.

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This is the historic area of Matthews, where Miss Chef worked for five years at Santé restaurant.  It’s just right of center, in the middle of the brick buildings.  The old VW Beetle on the left side sealed the deal, as Miss Chef has a special fondness for them.

So now this picture is hanging in our living room.  Just one more momento of the good times and the life we’ve built in Charlotte.  Here’s to more merry making in the near future!

6 comments:

  1. I have never eaten " southern" before......... I would love to give it a go

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    1. It seems to be the hot trend of the decade, though to be honest, there are as many variations on a dish as there are southerners to argue about it!

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  2. My mouth is watering! And that painting is very cool.

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    Replies
    1. It looks even better hanging up!

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  3. I too like the painting. The pork looks good although you didn't mention what the 2 kinds were.

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    Replies
    1. One was smoked, the other was beer-braised.

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